Rostokino Truffles – or how to win friends & influence people (in 5min)

The Rostokino Truffle was born on the eve of my second morning shift. Perkiness is hard to come by in my workplace at 5am. It rises about 9am like our local barrista. And what better to brighten battered spirits than coffee? Food!

 

Vegan truffles are a fantastically easy and versatile snack with ingredients most of us already have in our cupboards. They take no time to prepare and you can make loads. Literally.

 

So go ahead, bring a bit of sunshine to your work day and your colleagues.

 

Ingredients:

 

– 8 pitted dates

– 2/3 cup nuts (I used cashew and almonds)

– 1/3 cup dried fruit (I used prunes, apricots, cranberries because that’s what I had)

– 1 large tbsp tahini paste (could do without)

– drizzle of water to moisten the paste if it is too stiff.

– cacao powder for coating (or sesame seeds or coconut flakes)

 

Instructions

 

– Blend all ingredients (except water and cacao)  in food processor until you obtain a thick paste (drizzle a little water if necessary)

– Scoop heaped tsp spoon amount

– Roll between palms to obtain a ball

– Roll ball in cacao powder

– Taste (or store in air proof container in fridge for work)

 

Bon appétit !

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Kremlin Cauliflower – fast food king

The Cauliflower is a beautiful brain-shaped vegetable which deserves more respect than to be drowned in bechamel sauce – vegan or otherwise.

Therefore I have made this crunchy cruciferous the new victim of my life drive to discover culinary delight in a butter-free world of close Kremlin quarters.

So, in line with political tradition all sides of the border,  I have taken the ‘coloured cabbage’* and submitted to my imperial will.

 

Ingredients:

–  1/2 lemon

– 1 medium red onion

– cauliflower 1/2 head

– pinch of salt

– dash of olive oil

 

Instructions:

 

1- Rinse cauliflower, separate florets (little heads), slice perpendicularly (like a vertical cross section). I don’t mind if your outer parts crumble.

2- Chop onion in half then slice

3- Heat oil in pan, then add red onion. Cook on medium/high heat for 5 mins

4- Add cauliflower, squeeze some lemon juice over it, sprinkle some salt and cook at medium heat for 5 mins

5- Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary by adding extra lemon juice and/or salt

6- Cook for another five minutes. The cauliflower should be coated with juice and texture should still be crunchy.

7. Serve as garnish (makes 2 side portions), keep for lunch box, serve as main with fresh spinach and homemade sauce of your liking, serve as apéritif snack, feed the donkeys at the animal shelter, plate up in veggie burger, add to vegetable broth, send it back to me … the options are endless.

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Crumbly Apricot & Orange Buckwheat Cake with Grapefruit Glaze

CakeImprovising life has it’s good sides and it’s bad sides. On the plus side, I live in Russia, on the minus side, I have the concentration span of a gold fish. Instructions bore me. So it will come to you, my lone reader, as no surprise that I have long shied away from the path of all that is delicate and baked, preferring the heat of the stove top instead.

Until today.

Today I decided to make these orange and cranberry muffins – minus the cranberries, the muffin tray, the canola oil and functional oven. And this is what happened…

A moist and crumbly cake topped with delightful deliciousness.

APRICOT & ORANGE BUCKWHEAT CAKE

Recipe

Ingredients:

Dry…

1 cup plain flour

2/3 cup brown sugar or preferred -cose

1 cup buckwheat flour

2.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 salt

Wet…

1 cup orange juice fresh squeezed orange

1/2 cup coconut oil (refined)

1 1/4 cup dry apricots soaked over night so they are nice and plump

1 wooden spoon apricot juice from soaking

Instructions

1- Before you start: Grease cake mould (I used a standard size medium tin with a hole in the middle a.K.a. a tube pan) and heat oven to 375°F

2 – Mix all dry ingredients

3- Make well in centre pour in all wet ingredients except apricots and their juice

4- Stir until dry ingredients are moist adding in apricots half way – Add spoon of apricot juice if not moist enough

5- Empty into greased try and gently press down until dough covers pan

6- Bake for about 20 – 30 min, until the knife point comes out ‘clean’ (no cake mix, but a little bit of moist residue is fine)

7- Remove from pan – careful, it must be treated with the same respect animals deserve.

8- Try and leave to cool on wire tray rack – or wooden chopping board if you are destitute like me

GRAPEFRUIT GLAZE 

Ingredients:

1 pack of silken tofu

4 tsp of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice – orange works too

4 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions:

1- Blend until smooth

2- Spread generously over cooled cake

3- Eat

Curried Carrot ac Courgette – food of champions

To celebrate the soon–to-be launched vegan and vegetarian international social network BLEat whilst attempting to meet more people like me in Moscow, I have contributed an exclusive recipe that you can check out here.

Curried Carrot ac Courgette is set to be the new empty pantry favourite for all you overworked inhabitants of Soviet Land and further frontiers, with a special shout out to the spirits of my kindred – the timeless souls who are pushed always pushed for time.

So please, come and join BLEat – post your favourite recipes and your favourite shops so that I need not survive on bread alone wherever I may be – starting with Moscow.

tBlissitos – Soviet Vegan Burritos

The Caucasus : a steaming hot pot of sensual soul food

awesome – indulgent –  pungent – sexy – spicy – hearty – healthy

Craving Caucasian

The Caucasus mountain range is home to Russia’s, Europe’s and Western Asia’s highest peak, Mount (volcano) Elbrus. The land is shared by 4 States : Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and countless breakaway areas and Republics divided among descendants of nomadic Turkish tribes. There 3 different climates here: continental, maritime and subtropical – in other words, FOOD HEAVEN. This means fresh fruit and vegetables from a naturally adapted climate, spices, and dishes for every season and all weathers, harsh winters, hot summers, rainy days…. .

No meat, no Mexicans, only Moscow

Buying things in packets is for non-smokers who do sport every day and take their vitamins. Since half of my waking life is spent reporting on death and destruction with only cigarettes for respite, I refuse to buy anything pre-prepared, even if I do turn up for an 11h shift with nothing but an apple… And when the shift is over, I flee the city for a few days and head for the friendly solace of the far away suburbs. Here it has become tradition for me to cook for my hosts. However obtaining ingredients is, pardon the pun, an uphill struggle. So, in accordance with Darwin’s theory, I have evolved international cuisine and adapted it to an ingredient-hostile environment. Please note, this recipe is entirely based on things you can buy in (nearly) any Russian shop.

Ingredients:

  • Adjika(the good stuff, thick dark rusty red paste)
  • Flat lavash a.k.a Armenian Lavash (Caucasian flat bread, like Tortilla only thinner, traditionally rolled out and baked on stones in the sun)
  • Carrot: 1.5 cup, grated  (reserve half cup for filling)
  • Onion x 1 roughly chopped
  • Yellow pepper x 1 sliced (reserve half for filling)
  • Tomato paste, 2-3 large tablespoons
  • Lettuce, washed and torn (for filling)
  • Spring onion, roughly chopped
  • Tomato x 1, sliced*
  • Pumpkin seeds (handful)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Optional

  • Leek, 1 cup
  • Mushrooms, roughly chunked, 1 cup
  • 1 can of peas/sweetcorn/kidney beans
  • Any vegetables you can get your hands on

Instructions

  1. Add oil to frying pan on high heat (the deeper it is, the easier to mix)
  2. Brown onions and pumpkin seeds with pinch of salt, pepper, 1 (big) heaped teaspoon of adjika
  3. OPTIONAL: add leek and cook for 3 minutes
  4. Add peppers and carrots (and mushrooms)  to mix, cook until all ingredients soften (5-7min)
  5. OPTIONAL: include tinned vegetables now
  6. Add 2 big tablespoons of tomato paste (or enough to coat all ingredients), cook on low heat for another 5min. Turn off
  7. Find a nice big plate and decorate with grated carrot, tomato, yellow pepper slices, lettuce, spring onion and anything else you may have in your fridge

Serving 

  1. Put everything on table
  2. Tear lavash into generous rectangles (table mat size)
  3. Smear a generous serving of adjika in centre
  4. Lay out cooked filling in rectangle in centre of lavash
  5. Add fresh ingredients
  6. Roll your tBlissito
  7. Eat

Lessons in Cultural Awareness

Although quite usual for some of us English speakers, burritos, fajitas, tortillas and tacos are still very exotic for many countries so it is more than totally acceptable to serve this up as a dinner party centre piece.

Please also note that inhabitants of countries of non-Mexican culinary traditions (such as Russia) may not know how to roll a burrito, nor a tBlissito for that matter. So be nice and show your tablemates how its done.

Or youtube it.

Why tBlissitos ?

Tbilissi, the capital of Georgia …

* I bought a tomato from Azerbaijan from the local supermarket yesterday – it was amazing, pulpous, juicy, soft … Good produce makes everything so much better.

Forget hummus … Get Dokukinetta

Dokukinetta might actually be better than hummus, or at least for those with under-stocked cupboards and 13hour work days, living in a vegan unfriendly environment.

In the land of buckwheat, chickpeas come few and far between, as does tahini paste, and time, so I made my own, with ingredients universally stocked by our beloved little produktis (corner shops).

Dokukinetta has no chickpeas, hardly any olive oil, no tahini paste and no lemon juice, and can be made in exactly 5 minutes. Attention : strong flavours

Ingredients:

1 medium can kidney beans (400g net weight)

1 small can black olives (approx 200 net weight)

2 cloves garlic

dash of olive oil

Instructions:

Chop garlic

Rinse beans

Put garlic, beans and olives in food processor (or grab your hand blender or potato  masher)

Add dash of olive oil

Mash, crush, blend and bash into submission or at least until the mixture achieves a paste-like texture.

Attention : strong flavours guaranteed

Optional

Dill : 1 handful dill

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Some silken tofu for extra creaminess

Dokukina Daikon

Daikon is a recent discovery of mine. A nice Indian waiter in our local Himalayas (restaurant) laughed at me when I asked him what it was. I was intrigued by the menu’s claims to improved digestion. I ate the salad, enjoyed it and decided I wanted more – not even waiting to see how it would treat my darling digestive tract. The next day, I bought a daikon the size of my forearm.

The same night, struck by a severe bout of sleeplessness, I headed to my local 24h produkti (shop) at 5am to rustle up some potato cakes for breakfast. They had another intriguing vegetable; the size of a tennis ball and bright green. I decided that even abnormal green radishes needed love, so I adopted it. Turns out, it was a green turnip. Same difference.

I am not a recipe expert, I don’t believe in planning, nor weighing, nor precision – in general. This is what happens when you unleash a beast in a Soviet kitchen.

Jumping the culinary fences and surviving the fall …

DAIKON DOKUKINA

Ingredients:

1/2 daikon (large)

1/2 medium onion

1 medium green turnip

1 slice lemon

1 cm fresh ginger

1 lime leaf

1/2 dried red chili pepper (large)

How to?

Using a food processor or a hand grater, shred the daikon, onion, turnip and ginger.

Squeeze juice of lemon slice over above ingredients.

Crush fresh lime leaf between palms, add to mix.

Chop or crush chili pepper between palms, add to mix.

Mix everything together properly (leaving the lime leaf whole).

Let sit in fridge for minimum 30 min, the longer the better (the flavours fuse better).

Dokukina Daikon

Voila, one spicy fresh salad your body will thank you for.